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Meet Your Candidates: Saanich candidates talk priorities

22 candidates running for 8 councillor positions
Saanich Municipal hall. (Black Press Media file photo)

In the District of Saanich, Fred Haynes and Dean Murdock face off in the mayoral race with 22 candidates running for eight councillor positions. We asked each candidate to outline the most important thing council can do to improve the lives of residents. Here are their responses listed alphabetically.

Mayor candidates:

Fred Haynes

We must work together with empathy on our biggest challenges, as we did in the pandemic, to give hope to our housing, climate and affordability crises.

The digital revolution divorced home prices from local wages. It takes innovative work to address this. Saanich’s new award-winning housing strategy integrates climate action, environment, affordability and vibrancy. It adds housing for all generations on corridors and centres next to transit and active transport and a gentle approach to existing neighbourhoods.

I am a strong advocate for supporting and welcoming local businesses. A vibrant business sector reduces residential tax burdens and brings well-paying jobs.

Dean Murdock

We cannot solve the challenges we are facing when we are divided. By bringing people together and taking the time to listen, we can find solutions that make life better for everyone.

Saanich needs leadership that can find common ground and deliver results. When we work together, we can build a stronger Saanich with affordable homes for all incomes and stages of life accessible, and walkable neighbourhoods. We can create a thriving local economy and protect against the impacts of climate change. We can restore trust in decision-making and our decision-makers.

A stronger Saanich means a secure future for everyone.

Councillor candidates:

Trevor Barry

The 2023 council’s top priority is hiring Saanich’s new CAO. Council may direct bureaucracy, but civic bureaucrats are managed by the CAO alone.

If we want:

• “plangineering” with experience and wisdom, but also command of modern best practices …

• “fiscal accountability” that’s passionate about budget transparency and #OpenData …

• “sustainable services” that understands natural-and-capital asset management, and infrastructure investment …

• “housing supply” that gives more than it takes from society …

If we want our municipality to thrive under future conditions in the face of climate, affordability, health and other crises, then I plus council must hire the right new (CAO).

Susan Brice

Local government is the level of government closest to the residents. Our decisions impact residents’ basic needs of shelter, safety, environment and livability. By planning carefully, council can improve the lives of residents by ensuring homes will be built to match their financial resources and changing needs.

People want to be safe and feel safe, and investments in protective services, police and fire contribute to their sense of well-being. Council must set and achieve environmental goals to address climate change and ensure all our residents can move about safely and live healthy lives.

Judy Brownoff

Listening to and working with our residents, we can move Saanich forward as an age-friendly, livable community. When we create places and spaces that foster engagement and our built environment support healthy living, we create a healthy community.

Saanich needs to continue creating a vibrant social environment where people can live, work, learn and play. When we work together, we generate conditions where we can improve the lives of all our residents, no matter where they are in life, and they can thrive now and in the future. Saanich needs to be a healthy community for all.

Kathleen Burton

We must swiftly come together to work efficiently and collaboratively as active, contributing local government members.

We need to make considered and well-informed decisions while advocating on behalf of constituents. We need to remember that municipal council decisions require majority support. This fact will be crucial as we come together to work through various campaign promises and any items on which we, as individuals, took positions during the election.

I feel most important that honesty and integrity must underpin all aspects of our decisions.

Nathalie Chambers

After the election, council must continue to listen to residents and work with them to build an inclusive, sustainable community. Saanich council missed the mark on this important principle during the last four years.

As a first-term councillor, I opposed council’s relinquishment of robust environmental protections put in place through our long tradition of civic engagement. Also, in my opinion, special interests exercise too much influence on council. That’s why I remain 100 per cent not developer-funded. Municipal councillors need to remember they work to improve the lives of all Saanich residents.

Bianca Chu

Municipalities comprise a wide range of opportunities, issues, and people. At the core, council’s job is to be as representative as possible so that more people can be heard and understood. That way, council can better balance community needs to support more affordable living, thriving businesses, and optimized transportation - all while better protecting our environment.

Ultimately, the most important thing council can do is listen, so councillors can create more healthier, vibrant and diverse opportunities that work for everyone.

Zac de Vries

Housing is the most important issue facing residents. Housing is the foundation of a happy and healthy life. How and where housing is built will determine how resource, energy, and GHG intensive residents’ lives are. Housing policy is at the heart of better social, transportation, climate, and environmental outcomes. Policy determines our ability to build complete and sustainable neighbourhoods for all.

To get from a difficult place financially, socially, and environmentally to a place of greater equity and sustainability, council must offer strategic leadership in the designing and planning of our community in a way that moves Saanich forward, together.

Karen Harper

The single most important issue facing council within its legislative mandate is housing. If re-elected I will continue to work on achieving housing for all Saanich residents using the housing strategy as the model of how to achieve this goal.

Good housing strategy – density in the right places – is good climate strategy. I envision a Saanich where all ages and incomes are welcome and can live and work.

Sasha Izard

The key to improving the lives of residents is to protect and expand the environment they live in. Quality of life and length of life is greatly dependent on access to a clean environment and to quality foods.

Let’s promote and make accessible community gardens. The people who live the oldest keep engaged with their environment. An active connection to the sea and soil has been shown to keep those on islands like Sardinia and Okinawa to live among the oldest in the world statistically.

Basil Langevin

By centring people that are often overlooked in decision-making, Saanich council can make life better for everyone.

Designing our streets for eight-year-olds and 80-year-olds makes everyone safer. Prioritizing the needs of seniors with mobility challenges and people with disabilities creates more inclusive and welcoming spaces. Building family-suitable homes that the working class can afford grow our local economy. Embracing diversity in all its forms brings vibrancy and life to our community.

When we listen to and include everyone, we can protect what we love about Saanich while creating a bright and prosperous future.

Mark Leiren-Young

Pay attention to them. Everyone running for office listens to people during a campaign, but after the election, the process becomes formal and, for many people, intimidating and/or inconvenient. Not everyone is comfortable speaking publicly, so some residents might never consider sharing their hopes and concerns at meetings, forums or hearings.

As a councillor, I’ll regularly host the same sort of casual coffee chats that exist during campaigns. And I’ll publicly share information in ways that avoid – or at least translate – legalese and reach out to the people of Saanich beyond the world of tweets.

Vernon Lord

To me, the question is basically a councillor’s job description. Council’s main job is to improve the lives of residents. We accomplish that through stable, mature leadership, community engagement, safe, clean streets, commitment to fair tax increases and never forget that we are there to serve the community.

In this time of chaos and economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever for council to concentrate on our core responsibilities. It would serve us well to have a less contentious, less divisive council that listens and respects all voices.

Jordan MacDougall

Council can improve the lives of residents by creating more affordable, environmentally conscious, green, walkable neighbourhoods. Creating new housing around existing amenities, such as Uptown, will help reduce traffic. Shopping can be a quick five-minute walk away, and major bus routes will encourage people to use public transpiration.

We can partner with social housing initiatives and give bonuses to projects that hit affordability minimums. Incentivizing affordable market housing. Single-family areas will have less pressure to lose green space and densify. We must move to a greener, more sustainable city model.

Gregory Matte

As I meet hundreds of fellow Saanich residents during my daily canvassing, a recurring theme is the sense of disrespect they’ve experienced in response to legitimate requests or concerns they’ve raised, individually or collectively. This is in addition to an inconsistent approach to bylaw enforcement.

Council needs to improve credibility with the electorate through active consultation regarding controversial initiatives and empathetic listening when petitions are subsequently levied. Effective democracy is not based on a populist approach to vocal minorities but rather a fair, balanced, and principled approach to issues that respects accepted plans, while following an incremental, predictable implementation methodology.

Leslie Miller-Brooks

I am a long-time resident of Saanich, 30 years this past spring. I have tossed my hat into the ring because of my great concern for our natural environment and also the community in which we live.

My goals for Saanich would include: more walkable, bikeable and drivable neighbourhoods (less local congestion), an A/C lending program for vulnerable people, a solar shade bylaw to protect those investing in solar panels, the encouraging of re-wilding of gardens, and a robust and free transit system.

Mark Neufeld

Honestly, I think Saanich could be a role-model, an example for the North America and the world in how we can make visionary, long-term decisions that serve our community life richer today. Our communities should include a place where our children can afford to live.

We need to take on inequity, and inclusion in an everyday, rolled-up-sleeves kind of way. Our community has everything we need to realize this goal. Leadership is role-modelling, but it needs to be inclusive of the brilliant ideas of those not often represented.

Teale Phelps Bondaroff

We need to build more connected, affordable, and sustainable communities. We need neighbourhoods that meet the immediate needs in our community for a variety of affordable housing so that single people, young families, and seniors aging in place are all able to stay and grow in our municipality. At the same time, we need to be responsive to the ongoing climate crisis, building communities that look to the well-being of future generations with low-carbon transportation options and green, environmentally-friendly neighbourhoods.

Colin Plant

While it’s tempting to identify a single campaign platform position, I think the most important thing a council can do to improve the lives of residents is to work together respectfully and effectively as a team. Council needs to develop and execute a community-informed strategic plan while continuing to deliver quality services in a fiscally prudent manner.

The strategic plan should be informed and shaped by our official community plan that reflects our Saanich motto, “Serving the People” and ensures that Saanich is a “Place for Everyone.”

Art Pollard

The foundational principles of good governance are:

• Integrity — a councillor must act with integrity and honesty.

• Accountability — if I make a mistake, I will apologize.

• Respect — this means everyone’s view, whether you disagree or not.

• Leadership and collaboration — taking forward-looking views and vision for the future.

Council must function as a team, and there is no “I” in team. Those principles are my mantra.

Jordan Reichert

The most important thing Saanich council can do to improve the lives of residents is to ensure we have a thriving, resilient, and adaptable environment and climate strategy.

The health of the natural environment is the greatest asset we have as a community in protecting and enhancing our physical and psychological health while also promoting community building.

By protecting the environment, we strengthen our own ability to cope with the consequences of the climate crisis, create more healthy public spaces that are accessible for everyone to participate in, and build a stronger appreciation for the natural world that sustains us.

Rishi Sharma

We need to do a better job of listening to the voices of Saanich residents and then acting on their ideas and concerns.

One issue that has been clearly communicated to me is the need to focus more on affordability.

If elected, one of the first deliverables for me would be a public forum focusing on the built environment to create a new vision and mission for economic growth. Acting on this new vision will help with more affordable and attainable housing, increased sports, arts and recreation amenities, and more daycare and seniors programs.

Mena Westhaver

Listening to the opinions of Saanich residents, and meeting with resident associations are necessary steps towards improving the lives of our residents. This would allow council to gather information from lived experiences, which is imperative in ensuring that Saanich residents are supported in a thriving community.

Recognizing that our community is diverse and being inclusive while taking the time to listen to everyone, from the youth to older adults, will help Saanich to move forward in an informed, supportive direction. Working collaboratively as a high-functioning council dedicated to the citizens of Saanich will result in positive action.

Advance voting starts on Oct. 5 with general election day on Oct. 15. For more information on how or where to vote, check out your municipality’s website. For election night results, and more coverage in the lead-up to the election, go to

READ MORE: 2022 Election Coverage


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